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Santa Barbara Hikes

Photos from White Mountain Peak, August 2015

Albums IndexPhotos from White Mountain Peak, August 2015

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Went to the White Mountains to climb White Mountain Peak and visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest.

I took a lot of pictures of the trees. It's hard to show how beautiful they are.

These pictures are all from the 5 mile loop trail in Schulman Grove. We picked up one of their nature trail pamphlets and read the information at each guide post.

This is our group. Top to bottom, left to right are Paul, Kristi, Me, Tony, Nancy and Jim.

As we came around to the east side of the mountain, the landscape changed a bit. This was the last Bristlecone pine for a while and now the forest was full of mountain mohagany and sage.

This is Deep Springs and it is in Nevada.

We came around to the Bristlecone pines again.

One thing we learned was that some of the dead ones were dated to 11,000 years old. The oldest living tree they found is 4600 years old.

We saw a blue bird. I can't believe my camera was able to take its picture.

I really liked the landscape. I love desert pine forest.

Another thing we learned about the pines was how they die in bits. Disease, drought or other conditions may kill part of the root. The dead root will lead to a dead part of the tree. But the rest of the tree lives on.

Here we are reading more interesting information about the trees.

These trees seemed to thrive in the worst of conditions. The worse it was for them, the stronger they grew.

Another interesting thing we learned was that the size of the tree didn't correspond to how old it was. If conditions were better, the tree might grow faster and appear large. If conditions were worse, it might grow slower and be small. But it seemed that the worst conditions grew the oldest trees.

There were lots of pine cones here.

This tree had a lot of sapsucker holes.

A Bristlecone pine cone!

After the 5 mile trail we did a 1/2 mile trail to an old mine.

This cabin was made with Bristlecone pine logs. When it was made they did not know how old the pines were.

This is the inside of the cabin.

The pile on the left are the mine tailings. The road goes onward to the Patriarch Grove and beyond to Barcroft Station where the White Mountain Peak hike starts.

My camera takes really cool panoramas. Click on it for a larger view. If you were looking at the thumbnail view, you may need to click on it one more time.

After visiting the pines we returned to our camp at Grandview campground. When the sun was setting we climbed a small peak to go have a look. This is the sun setting over the High Sierra. Some of those crags are the Palisades.

Here are four of our group: The Seeker, The Beauty, The Joker, The Sentinel.

Our campsite at Grandview. It was so nice here. Pinyon pines and juniper. No light pollution so the stars were beautiful. You could see the Milky Way. The end of the Perseids meteor showers meant we saw several shooting stars. There were many astronomers in the campground with huge telescopes. We didn't go ask them to look but I'll be you can see the planets clearly up here. We had great weather with warm nights and no wind.

In the morning we set off early to do the long drive to the starting point for the hike. On the way we stopped to take some pictures of the High Sierra while it was still clear.

There were a number of forest fires burning that would obscure the view as the day progressed.

This is the parking area for the hike. Someone was camped here. The location is at just under 12,000 feet. It's a long and difficult drive.

Here's our "before" group photo. Nancy, Kristi, Tony, Me, Paul and Jim.

It's high alpine conditions with marmots everywhere.

I accidentally took this picture of my foot. I was going to wear these Luna sandals only for as long as I could take it. I ended up doing the whole 15 mile hike with them and my feet felt great the whole time. I wore them with nylon stretch tabi socks that I ordered from Japan. These Lunas are their Oso model. If you are wondering about Luna sandals, Barefoot Ted makes them for running. They're a modern take on Tarahumara huaraches. The upper surface has a special grippy rubber that provides enough friction to keep your foot in place without having to tighten things too tight. I find that my feet swell and contract so much it's best not to tighten them very much. As loose as I can stand it is best. On side hill conditions the strap can be uncomfortable without the socks. But otherwise I find them comfortable and not having a strap around my forefoot makes me feel barefoot. They aren't as comfortable as Chacos but they have way better grippy soles.

Here's the Barcroft Station. This is about 2 miles into the hike.

They have sheep here.

There were flowers blooming along the way.

An old observatory with White Mountain Peak in the background. That's our destination. It's odd the peak is brown and orange and not white at all.

White Mountain Peak.

This is me. I was trying out this crazy idea I had. I have had a hard time finding good hip belt pockets for my backpacking backpack. They are hard to attach, they twist and tangle and make putting on the pack difficult. Wearing a fanny pack turned to the front doesn't work well because the buckle digs into my back. So I thought, what about using an apron? I found this scrap of canvas at Art from Scrap and sewed an apron. It looks dorky but worked great. I had snacks, reading glasses and my camera in the pockets and there was room for a lot more things.

There's Tony.

That gray erupting thing is a fire. I think it's responsible for the road closure on Highway 120.

You can see the trail the entire distance as you hike. White Mountain Peak is the easiest 14,000ft. peak you can do. You follow the dirt road the whole way so it's never terribly steep. You get to test yourself with altitude without also testing yourself with difficulty.

This panorama came out really cool. Click on it for a larger picture. If you were looking at the thumbnail view, you may need to click on it one more time.

Getting closer.

The views of the High Sierra and the Bishop area below are just amazing.

The summit is within reach.

I am almost to the top.

You can see hikers switchbacking below.

I think I'm at the summit now.

A panorama from the summit. If you were looking at the thumbnail view, you may need to click on it one more time.

A panorama from the summit. If you were looking at the thumbnail view, you may need to click on it one more time.

Panoramaception. Tony's taking a panorama, too.

Someone left this cool sign to take a selfie at the top. This is me with the High Sierra in the background.

This is me with Nevada in the background and my dorky apron.

You can't go inside the building.

The fire is spreading smoke and haze but you can still see pretty well for a while.

Looking east.

Zoomed in on the fire.

As we started down, I looked over the front at these crags.

The descent is pretty quick. Then the long, mostly level part goes on and on. There are two up hill sections on the way back.

I like this picture of the old observatory.

Here's our after picture. We look great. Overall we mostly didn't struggle much. I personally felt stronger than any other time I've done this hike. This was my third time. I barely noticed the altitude at all. In fact, I even ran some of it on the way back.

The long drive back. It was very stressful as Tony realized his tires were almost bald and wires were poking out where the treads should be.

We stopped at the Patriarch Grove to take more pictures of Bristlecones.

These trees were younger than the ones at Schulman Grove, but they were bigger.

One interesting thing we learned was that from the position of fallen and live trees at treeline and tree rings they could tell that in the past the climate had been warmer so the trees grew higher up the mountains. Then the climate got cooler and the trees at higher elevation died. Now there are younger trees sprouting at higher elevation again as the climate is warming again.

We learned that birds will gather their seeds and cache them, sometimes forgetting where they cached them. Then they will sometimes sprout in little groups. I wondered if that was why this tree was so wide, if perhaps it was actually a group of trees.

It's amazing to think that one little nuthatch in one blip of time may have started this tree so many centuries ago. How many little bird lifespans went by? And the birds are still here, still starting off new Bristlecones.

I've taken pictures of this tree at least one time before. Tony has taken a picture of it each time we've been here. We had to search for it but we found it.